Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Slip Slidin' Away...

I guess it was too good to last. Whatever weather sanctuary has been protecting the greater Kashima area for the past couple of weeks finally buckled under the pressure.

The weather experts said that this would probably turn out to be the warmest winter on record. Naturally, the country immediately saw one of the worst cold snaps in history, with record snowfalls being dumped all over the country.

Everywhere except here. In the wonderful Kanto Plain we've only had days and days of beautiful, sunny, dry weather. COLD AS HELL, but dry.

Sometime during the night the Mr. Spock up in the sky above us (okay...Cmdr. Data for those of you that never got into ST:TOS) must have said, "Deflector shields are gone, captain," because I got up to go to work this morning, opened the curtains, and was greeted with a world of white. There wasn't that much snow; maybe a couple of centimeters (0.7874 inches) at best. However, since it was buckets-frozen-solid cold outside, the little bit of melt caused by the morning sun quickly turned into a nice, shiny, slick pavement of ice on the street.

No, driving on it wasn't fun.

Fortunately, once I creeped my way out to the main road, the worst was over. Traffic had long since cleared the lanes of ice. However, cars were still spinning in off the side streets, and traffic was slowed to a standstill by frequent accidents. Once I got into Kashima, pulled off the main route, and wound my way around the hills leading to the academy, I found snow and ice again. Going up one steep incline, my traction broke free, and my wheels were spinning like crazy (and my car threatening to rotate) as I fortunately somehow managed to keep moving uphill and over the top. Even though I'd left nice and early, I wound up rolling in to the school more than half an hour late.

It was a good thing that entrance exams were yesterday (as yesterday's post described...if I ever get around to writing it...). Being tardy today wasn't such a disaster. A lot of other teachers didn't show up at all. Today was spent marking test papers. As we did so, we could see that it was snowing again outside. Hard. The sky overhead was black, and the air all around was like a thick fog of snowflakes. As it turned out, my group finished really quickly, so I just took care of a few odds and ends in the music office. Then I decided to make the trip home early so I wouldn't have to face the dangers in the dark.

It was no longer snowing when I left. In fact, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. There was still snow and ice in the campus, especially in the teachers' parking lot. Once I crawled my way out of there, however, I found that the rest of the world had long since thawed out. The sun was blazing, and the streets of Kashima were bone dry. Not a speck of white to be seen anywhere. It was normal driving all the way home.

Now I'm sorry I didn't bring a camera with me this morning instead of popping off in a panicked huff. We actually had winter snow this year. It didn't last even half a day, but it was a harrowing half a day! I guess Old Man Winter paid his courtesy call.



  • MM:
    Hoping it will be sunny and warm soon in your area.

    A cold wave comes to my planet, the weather falls down from 21-23 C. degrees to 6-13 C. degrees in a sudden again. REALLY Chilly. Thinking about, if I could shrink my head, hands and feets into my body as a tortoise did for keeping warm. :-p

    By Anonymous l.c_d, at 10:49 PM  

  • We had a small dusting of snow here in Portland a week ago, here and gone before I could get my snow tires on, but I carry them around now just in case.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:57 AM  

  • It sounds like you did not opt for the 4wd version of your BLUE rav4. I remember having lots of fun with my BLUE Isuzu MU with 4wd and studless tires when I was over there.

    By Anonymous The Intrepid Adventurer, at 11:28 AM  

  • First day back to work in Mito for K. I was relieved that Saturday she takes the train so didn't have to drive far.

    This is the first snow I've experienced first hand in a very long time. And first one since I was a kid that I didn't deliberately experience.

    Does the BLUE RAV4 have 4WD?

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 8:33 PM  

  • Intrepid Adventurer and Pandabonium:

    Unfortunately, the BLUE RAV does NOT have 4WD. When I bought it back in July of 2000 I took a look at how much extra the 4WD option would cost, and I said, "Hmm...," whereupon the wife immediately said, "DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!"

    No, it's not fair to try to pass the buck. I decided not to go for the 4WD option because...(wait for it)...I DIDN'T THINK I'D HAVE ANY USE FOR IT!!!!!!!

    And unfortunately, the Yokohama "dual-use" radial tires I've got on the thing offer about as much "all-weather" traction as nothing. Even on ordinary rainy days I sometimes sit and spin when I hit the accelerator to try to pull out into traffic. Snow, especially packed snow, can definitely be a problem. Ice most definitely is.

    Wouldn't you know it: we had a similar freak cold snap two years ago, only we got a good 10cm of snow accumulation. I tried taking my usual back-road route to work anyway. To my car's (and tires') credit, I never lost control even when going down a fairly steep incline with a sharp curve at the bottom (though my antilock brakes were popping like machineguns all the way!). However, when I tried to climb the one hill, I hit black ice a third of the way up, my traction broke loose immediately, and I started to fishtail. I pumped the accelerator, eased the wheel, let the car drift, and guided my slide over into the opposite lane (fortunately no oncoming traffic), which was clear. Once I had traction again I regained my facing, accelerated to build up momentum, returned to my own lane, and made it the rest of the way up the hill. Needless to say, my gray hair count had tripled. When I went over the top and down the other side, I passed several cars that were simply unable to make the climb. That reassured me a bit, but that's why I stuck to the main road this time.

    So instead, this year I had the same thing happen (to a far lesser extent) coming into the school...

    Shoulda got the 4WD...
    SHOULDA GOT the 4WD...

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:23 PM  

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